Cocktails get the house remedy in a number of new books
Cocktails have a moment and because of the pandemic, that moment happens most often at home.
According to the Distilled Spirits Council, an industry trade group, many restaurants have responded with take-away cocktails that are approved in more than 30 states. Liquor stores offer cocktails in cans like those from Canteen and Cutwater, as well as hard seltzer and more.
But bartending at home has also increased. A number of books on the subject have been published in the past six months.
In contrast to the often complicated cocktail books of the past, these five offerings were specially written for the home cook / bartender by authors who are new to the cocktail world. Each is designed to help you experience craft cocktails at home without earning a PhD. in mixology.
“Beautiful Booze: Stylish Cocktails To Take At Home” (Countryman Press) was written by Natalie Migliarini and James Stevenson, who left Seattle five years ago to travel and document the world of wines, beers, spirits and liquors. The inviting and glamorous photos were taken in a rented apartment in New Orleans.
The book grew out of a blog of the same name, and the recipes are simple (often three ingredients), visually appealing, and sophisticated. The authors renamed classic cocktails and gave them a funny twist on a book that is just as fun to read as it is to drink.
John DeBary worked in the New York bar business for years. He is a wine and spirits author and started the non-alcoholic aperitif Proteau about a year before the publication of his book “Drink What You Want: The Subjective Guide to Making Objectively Delicious Cocktails” (Clarkson Potter). The title resonates with me because I always gave the same advice regardless of the recommended pairings.
DeBary offers recipes for alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails, some with clever names and absolutely no claims. Writing is straightforward and informative. If you don’t know anything about how to make a drink, here is everything you can learn. And if you already feel at home as a bartender, you will receive tips and new ideas.
JM Hirsch, editor-in-chief of Milk Street and former food editor of The Associated Press, turned a popular hobby into a cocktail book called “Shake, Strain, Done: Craft Cocktails at Home.” He approaches cocktails from a culinary point of view and divides them into 11 categories: refreshing, creamy, fruity, sweet, sour, herbal, bitter, spicy, smoky, warm and strong.
Hirsh presents drinks in a “language that we can taste”. You can search the book for a primary liquor like bourbon and a dominant trait. For example, if you want a refreshing vodka drink or a warm bourbon sip on a cold night, the book will guide you.
If you miss the City of Light and crave a café culture, David Lebovitz shows you how to design it yourself at home. The latest book by the confectioner and cookbook author is “Drinking French” (Ten Speed Press). Photography alone brings you back to Paris. Lebovitz has captured traditional drinks, created some new ones, and rediscovered iconic French spirits like Suze, Pineau de Charentes, Cognac, Chartreuse, Armagnac and Byrrh.
Since the book was published in March, Lebovitz has been demonstrating food and drink with his “Apéro Hour” videos on Instagram. The aperitif hour “signals the transition between day and night or work and leisure,” he explains. In France, it’s a time to relax and enjoy an aperitif and a nibble.
Julia Bainbridge is a food writer who decided to stop drinking but not stop drinking. She drove across the country to find the best non-alcoholic craft cocktails she could find.
Her new book, “Good Drinks: Non-Alcoholic Recipes When You Don’t Drink For Some Reason” (Ten Speed Press) is welcome for those looking to enjoy a spiritual cocktail to celebrate and join the fun.
Before experimenting with the drinks in these books make sure you have the basics on hand.
When trying new cocktails, build your bar to your liking. You don’t have to buy everything at once. My starter list includes aged versions of tequila, rum, and whiskeys from around the world because I’m a lover of brown spirits. It will likely be different for your bar.
For example, if you drink gin, experiment with the new craft gins available. There are so many fantastic spirits and liquors out there today that it is almost necessary to try new bottles instead of sticking to one brand all the time.
And when it comes to brands, taste is subjective. While I’m a proponent of trying new spirits, be sure to have your favorite brands on hand to get started.
“Use the spirits you already know and love – and you will love the cocktail,” says Migliarini.
Some suggestions for setting up a simple home bar:
Must-haves (choose your favorite brand): gin, vodka, blanco tequila, white rum, bourbon, rye, scotch whiskey, Irish whiskey, cognac, vermouth
Nice-to-haves: flavored vodka like the Ketel One Botanical; Craft gin, such as Citadelle; aged tequila (reposado, anejo, or both); aged rum; flavored rum, such as the Plantation Stiggins Pineapple rum; a smoky scotch whiskey like Laphroaig; Your favorite single malt scotch whiskey; Your favorite single pot whiskey from Ireland; Japanese whiskey such as Suntory Whiskey Toki; Limited edition or small series bourbon and / or rye such as Booker’s or Onkel Nearest.
SPARKLING WINE OR CHAMPAGNE
This is a very subjective list. There are many to choose from and you will find your favorites: Orange, like Grand Marnier, Dry Curacao; Pastis, pernod or absinthe; Kahlua or Coffee Rum; Campari, Fernet-Branca, Aperol, etc .; sweet and fruity, like Chambord, Limoncello, St. Germaine, Luxardo.
TOOLS AND OTHER ITEMS
Bitters, a long mixing spoon, short spoons, a shaker or mason jar, a Hawthorne strainer, and a julep strainer; Stirring glass; Jigger or small ounce measure; fine-mesh sieve.
Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Karmel is an expert on grilling, grilling and Mediterranean foods and the author of four cookbooks. Her website is www.elizabethkarmel.com.